Many thought last night would be the night the Montreal Canadiens got back on track, as a Saturday night game against their long-time rival usually means a win for the Habs in recent history, as it had in the 14 previous matches against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But it was the Leafs who emerged victorious, as the long streak was snapped after some OT action.
With some back-and-forth play early on, it was the Canadiens who drew first blood. Following a smooth zone entry, Jonathan Drouin sent a drop pass to Jeff Petry, who made no mistake, ripping home a slapshot past Frederik Andersen to make it 1-0 for the Canadiens.
Traffic in front of the net seemed to be one of the Habs main objectives, as they attempted to block Andersen’s vision all night long, and it was an effective strategy on the first goal of the game.
Following the goal, Montreal was buzzing, as both Paul Byron and Victor Mete had exceptional chances to further their lead, but were unable to convert.
Carey Price had his usual flashes of brilliance, as he denied Mitch Marner halfway through the period with a cross-crease pad save.
However, Price wasn’t perfect on the night, as he didn’t seem like himself through the rest of the game. The first goal by Matthews seemed to catch him by surprise and out of position, something we don’t see often from the Canadiens netminder. After the game he admitted that he stumbled as he was getting set for the shot.
From there on the game was a back-and-forth affair as the teams continually traded goals and scoring opportunities.
Alex Galchenyuk was a focal point in tonight’s game, as all the talk was about his lack of scoring leading up to this matchup. On a power play in the second, he silenced his critics by scoring his first of the year on a laser of a wrist shot.
Montreal’s young guns kept the offence rolling , as next up to score was Jonathan Drouin, who notched his first as a Hab on a pretty slick pass from defenceman Karl Alzner, deflecting the puck past Frederik Andersen.
However, it wouldn’t be long until Toronto struck back. A goal by Patrick Marleau was reviewed as it was unclear at first if the puck crossed the line after a scrum at the side of the night, but it ended up being the tying goal.
Montreal actually controlled possession through most of the third period, leading the Leafs in shots at one point 13-2 in the frame, however they were unable to convert on their chances to take a late lead.
In overtime, it was Auston Matthews yet again who beats Price, giving Toronto their first win against the Canadiens since 2014, 4-3 the final.
- Alex Galchenyuk delivered when needed, scoring his first of the season, and the first power play goal for the Habs all year. This should hopefully light a fire underneath the forward, as his goal-scoring was something the Habs desperately missed.
- Claude Julien made a smart move in the second, placing Galchenyuk with Drouin and Pacioretty for a shift, as it seemignly gave him a confidence boost. Trust is everything right now between Galchenyuk and Julien, and he performed exactly as expected.
- Drouin looked great as well tonight, with a goal and an assist. He’s been one of the better Habs all year long, and was rewarded for his strong play tonight.
- Pacioretty has been pretty quiet to start the season. He missed various opportunities tonight, and hasn’t been able to charge the offence forward so far this year.
- Carey Price just hasn’t been himself lately, and tonight it definitely showed, as he was beat clean at times, which is something that usually doesn’t occur. He seemed frustrated as well, as he knows he isn’t playing to his potential.
- Victor Mete played a solid game tonight, as he had the second-highest time on ice on the Habs at 22:26. He was cool and composed, even while being matched up to the Matthews line alongside Shea Weber. Game in and game out, he’s showing that he deserves to stay beyond his nine-game tryout.